The European Council for Refugees and Exiles, based in Brussels, stated that the European Union is reluctant to act to confront this crisis, because it considers preventing the arrival of refugees to Europe as a “general strategy”, regardless of the costs and consequences, and that this violates the laws of the European Union, and contravenes the Geneva Refugee Convention.
The name of some European countries has recently been associated with forcing refugees to return and pushing them away from their borders under the pretext of “combating illegal immigration”. Many cases of refugees being forced to return from Greece, Croatia and, more recently, Poland and the Baltic states, have been documented.
Catherine Wollard, President of the European Council on Refugees and Exiles, said the recent news adds new evidence about cases of refugees being forced to return using violence within EU borders.
Some European countries use all possible means, including excessive violence, to prevent refugees from reaching their lands and initiating legal asylum procedures, and these actions are contrary to European Union and international laws, and are morally “repulsive”.
It is known that crossing the borders of countries with the aim of seeking asylum is not a violation of the law according to international law, and that most refugees do so because they have no other choice.
Cases of forced returns, mass deportations, and border denials have been documented in at least 13 EU countries, with people losing their lives as a result, and some EU countries, particularly Greece, forcing asylum seekers to return using excessive force.
It appears that the European Agency for Border and Coast Guard (Frontex) has a role in these violations against refugees.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights announced that it had received strong evidence that Greece forced asylum seekers to return, and that the Commission had discussed the matter with the European Union and would continue to follow it up. Hundreds of cases of forced return, especially in the Aegean Sea, to Turkish territorial waters have been documented.
Greece has been using tear gas and rubber bullets to prevent refugees from crossing the land border bordering Turkey.